Today I led a community walk. An art walk. At one gallery we visited we could see the artist's backyard.
Many of us walkers took a lot of interest in her back yard and in her garden which was full of midsummer fecundity.
The artist/gardener pointed out a tree in her neighbor's yard, not that it needed any pointing out. There stood an enormous and impressive Bay Laurel tree.
She said, "See that tree? It's over 1,000 years old. That tree is the second oldest Bay Laurel tree in the all of California."
It was truly impressive. I snapped its photo, but my photo fails almost completely to convey the tree's nobility. With apologies for that, here:
Standing in its shade, I felt honored to be in the presence of a truly holy being.
A venerable elder. As I said a silent prayer to it, one of my walking companions commented, "It looks like the old tree could be leaning towards the house. It should be cut down."
I felt a rush of anger run through my body, washing the prayer right out of me. I contained my anger and watched it turn into sadness and hurt. Ten seconds later, the anger was almost gone and I was simply overcome with sadness. How could that woman so immediately wish that this tree, perhaps 20 times her senior, be killed, murdered for leaning?
"My God," I wondered to myself, "Is our human species really this murderous?"
I realized that my sadness is of no use to the tree. I tried to think of a more creative response.
I was able to come up only with this idea, "Maybe," I replied as mildly as I could, "Since the house is only 50 years old, they could move the house."